Fierce hunters, bobcats can kill prey much bigger than themselves, but usually eat rabbits, birds, mice, squirrels, and other smaller game.
Union County Falcon Cam
Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ has partnered with Union County to stream this falcon nest live from the roof of the County Courthouse in downtown Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Buildings and their owners/managers have played an important role in the successful recovery of Peregrine falcons in New Jersey. After a pair attempted to nest (and were unsuccessful) here in 2005, building managers took action to give these birds a second chance. Since windy conditions made nesting on the roof impossible, Union County staff, as directed by state wildlife zoologist Kathy Clark, installed a Dogloo, also referred to as a "Peregloo" to provide a more suitable nest site. After installing the Peregloo, the nesting pair was productive! Since then the site has been occupied by falcons. In 2016, there was a turnover at the nest and the female was replaced with a young adult. Then in 2019, the current female (who is unbanded), named "Frida" replaced the previous female.
Over the past several days the young falcons have become fledglings! This is one reason why they are not observed on camera as much, since they are able to fly and often land on other parts of the building or other nearby buildings with ledges and good perching spots. This is the crucial period for them, as they work to gain experience with flight and especially landing. We try to keep the cameras focused on them, but at times it is difficult since their connection to their nestbox will diminish over time. The adults continue to provide food for them and help them gain flight skills by luring them to other parts of the building or other buildings through prey exchanges. Adults exchange prey to young in flight through direct transfer or by dropping prey for the fledglings to catch mid-air. Eventually they will disperse and find wintering areas with abundent prey.
On May 23 we joined Supervisory Zoologist Kathy Clark/NJDEP Fish & Wildlife and Union County staff and guests to band the three falcon eyases produced. After gaining access to the roof, we brought them down into a climate controlled section of the building for banding. There our partners assisted with drawing blood and banding the nestlings.
Blood samples are taken from urban nestlings to look for the presence of lead and other heavy metals that bioaccumulate in their prey. Black federal and bicolor state bands were placed on all three nestlings for future identification. Measurements of their culmen determined that all three are females! Their bicolor aux. bands are: BM/89, BM/90 & BM/91. Union County staff are working on names for all nestlings. In another couple weeks they will begin to take their first flights. If anyone lives in the Elizabeth area and would like to volunteer for fledge watch (respond to calls when falcons end up on the ground), then please contact us!
Well, it appears that my previous update was lost or not saved after editing this page.. We now have three healthy eyases who will be banded tomorrow morning (May 23 ~ 10am). We will be joining NJ Fish & Wildlife and Union County to complete the mission. The young will be brought inside to keep them calm, cool and safe for banding. After that is complete and some photos are taken, then they will be placed back on the roof. If you see the adults in a panic, this is why. They will be upset, but it is nothing they can't handle. Banding raptors is the best way for biologists to learn more about them through re-sightings of their bands. Then we can see where they disperse to, winter, and end up breeding as adults. If you have questions, then you can post them below and they will be answered. Sorry that my last update did not appear. -BW
We now have a nice brood of three eyases (young falcons)! It is clear that the remaining egg will not hatch, which is okay. Three hungry mouths to feed is plenty of work for this pair of falcons! The adults are brooding them to keep them warm as they are still very vulnerable. They can see, but not very good.
Tomorrow, May 3 around 9am, Kathy Clark from DEP NJ Fish & Wildlife will be visiting the nest site to medicate the young for trichomoniasis as a precautionary measure. We will be actively controlling the outside cam to show this effort and will be answering any questions on the live stream on YouTube.
We have two hatchlings! Thanks to the staff at Union County for capturing this clip showing the first feeding of the two hatchlings. When they are very small, they eat very little, but every morsel of food is essential for them to thrive. The other two eggs should begin to pip and hatch over the next couple days if the eggs are viable. Since this is an urban nest, we keep an eye out for prey items like pigeons and doves, since they can carry trichomoniasis, which can be transferred to the young falcons who are very vulnerable to this disease. We will be watching carefully for signs of the disease and may treat the young with antibotics when they are around two weeks old. Kathy Clark, Supervisory Zoologist with NJDEP Fish & Wildlife usually visits the site to medicate the young and then returns to band them when they are around 3-4 weeks old. You can watch a video that we made which highlights the management of urban falcons in NJ.
It is no surprise to see that one egg has pipped, which means that it has broken through its shell, is breathing outside air and able to peep! As falcons delay incubation untill they have a full clutch of eggs, we should start to see the other eggs pip as well.
We have carefully zoomed in the PTZ cam that is located outside of the nestbox to get a better view of hatching.
Thank you to Union County staff for sharing the video clip and news of hatching with us this morning!
We're now past the halfway point of incubation, with day 20 on the horizon. As incubation continues, we see that the female does the majority. She occasionally gets a break to feed and stretch her wings and the male may rotate the eggs before sitting on them.
At other falcon nests throughout New Jersey, NJFW and CWF are visiting nests to document nest activity. This time of year is when many pairs begin laying and incubating eggs. While at nests, we attempt to ID adults by their leg bands with a dSLR camera. Previously a spy camera was used but it wasn't very reliable. With a fast camera and telephoto lens the bands can usually be read much quicker and we spend less time visiting nests to set and retrieve the spy cam.
Today marks day 10 of incubation. If you tune in from time to time, then catching action (incubation exchanges) might not be observed. The good thing with our live stream on YouTube is that you can rewind to watch these exchanges! Some viewers leave timestamps (TS) in the live chat to let other viewers know when some action occurred.
When males arrive to take over incubation, they often arrive with a meal, sometimes partially consumed. From 2003 Nestbox News: "There is considerable variation in the behavior among peregrine pairs during nesting. Some males remain close to the nest (and the incubating female) when they are not away hunting for food. Conversely, some males spend little time near the nest and only appear when bringing food to the incubating female."
It seems that this male tends to spend little time near the nest, but is likely nearby, guarding his territory. When he is near the nest, he is wary of the camera, so we have not moved it much to avoid attracting their attention.
In addition, "Periodically, the incubating adult will get up off of the eggs and turn each one before resuming the incubation position. This behavior is directed toward providing each egg in the clutch with more even temperatures. Turning the eggs is believed to serve another important function by preventing the embryonic membranes from adhering to the inside of the shell. As each egg is turned the embryo remains uppermost on the inside of the shell." (2003 Nestbox News)
Other viewers have commented on the audio, where static or interference is heard. This is not something that the falcons can hear and is interference with the microphone line. It can't be fixed until after the nesting season, unfortunately.
The pair is now incubating a full clutch of four eggs! The forth was laid in the morning on March 26. Now the pair will incubate the eggs on a constant basis until they begin to hatch. The pair will work as a team to keep them warm with the female doing the majority of incubation. The male does the majority of foraging for the pair, which will pick up once young start to hatch.
Others have asked how we tell the difference between the male and female. With all raptors, females are larger than males. Females have a less saturated yellow color on their fleshy parts - cere (fleshy part of their bill or mandible) and legs. The color on males is much more vibrant. With this pair, the female has light colored feathers at the base of her upper mandible, while the male does not.
Frida laid the third egg yesterday evening! As she nears the end of egg laying, then she will begin to sit on the eggs for longer durations. If she will lay a fourth, then it should arrive in another day or two. Once she has a full clutch then they will be incubated for around 32 days, which would put hatch watch to begin the last week of April, which is very early! In fact, this is the first known nest in NJ to have eggs this early in the season.
Egg #2 was laid early this morning! Will she lay a full clutch this year? We will soon find out. She may sit on the eggs from time to time, but does not fully initiate incubation until a full clutch is laid.
As you can see at the top of this page, we have launched a new live stream on our YouTube channel! CWF is proud to partner with Union County to broadcast the live view of this peregrine falcon nest atop the county courthouse in Elizabeth, NJ on YouTube! The live stream will allow for greater viewership of the falcon nest and their annual life cycle in the urban northeast part of the state. For now we are only planning to stream this view on YouTube. Other camera views (including this one) can still be found on the Union County website. What do you think? Let us know in the Disqus box below.
Well, this is unexpected addition, the first egg was laid around mid-day today! Talk about perfect timing!
Over the past couple weeks viewers have witnessed the nesting pair (Frida & Mango) strengthening their pair bond. This is signaling the onset of their breeding season! As peregrine falcons mate for life, they perform courtship displays where they "bow" to each other while vocalizing with "Eee-chup" calls. As the male does the majority of foraging during their nesting season (which also strengthens pair bond), viewers will see prey exchanges where the male passes off prey to the female. Most falcons in New Jersey begin egg laying in late March and early April. Last year Frida laid the first egg on March 19 and last on the 27th, so we eagerly await egg laying to begin! We know that she is getting close to egg laying when she spends more time in the nestbox and in the scrape (shallow depression where eggs are laid).
In other news Disqus interaction is back (below). Viewers are encouraged to comment, ask questions, and post snapshots. We have a new policy for live chat which is meant to improve the experience for all who participate.
Lastly, we have partnered with Union County to bring this camera to YouTube! The outside view of the nestbox will be streamed to our YT channel, starting on March 18. We may include live chat there as well, when moderators are available and action on the cam.
March 8, 2022
Welcome to a new season of life at the Union County Falcon Cam! The male and female been strengthening their pair bond, which is demonstrated by their Eeee-chup calls and bowing displays. On other views of the camera, which are visible on Union County's website, the male was observed delivering prey to the female, which also helps strengthen their monogamous relationship. Peregrines who live in New Jersey do not migrate. They must remain near their nests to defend their territories. With a growing falcon population in the state and few suitable nest sites, battles over established nests are occurring more frequently.
Falcons typically lay eggs in late March and early April. With the increased activity, we know it won't be too long until they arrive.
We hope to re-activate Disqus in the next week, so that viewers can interact with biologists and other viewers. Stay tuned and as always, we appreciate your support! -BW
Falcon Cam Interaction:
Falcon Cam Education
CWF’s Soaring with STEM program educates children about New Jersey’s unique natural resources and the rare wildlife that shares our environment using the Union County Falcon Cam as the primary technological learning tool. Through interactive and engaging classroom and assembly presentations, our experienced educators bring wildlife into your school. Students are fascinated to discover that these raptors nest and raise young each year right in their own backyards! Teachers receive structured lessons and interactive activities to address the Next Generation Science Standards for grades 3-5. Learning about their wildlife neighbors helps children to connect to their community and teaches children to consider how their everyday actions impact the natural world around them. A special thanks to Phillips 66 for their sponsorship of the Union County Educational programs utilizing the Union County Falcon Cam.
Liz Silvernail, Executive Director: Email
Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager: Email